<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=852282609072225&amp;ev=PageView%20&amp;noscript=1">

She Is...Leadership: Entergy’s Deanna Rodriguez Embraces the Challenges and Rewards of Serving New Orleans

September 15, 2023
Amanda McElfresh, The Advocate
Amanda McElfresh, The Advocate
Hancock Whitney
Hancock Whitney

Growing up on the Texas/Mexico border, Deanna Rodriguez had first-hand experience with a melting pot of cultures and languages.

“I was born on the U.S. side, but we spoke a lot of Spanish at home. When you live in that border culture, there’s a little bit of everything in the air,” she recalled. “That helped me become more open to other people and experiences from a young age. To me, that has shaped everything in how I think, how I manage people and how I conduct myself. I’m really proud of my heritage and the world I come from.”



That appreciation for diversity is one of the main reasons Rodriguez has fallen in love with New Orleans, this time as the first Latina and the first woman to serve as president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans. She and her family have split their time between New Orleans and Austin over the past three decades, but their love for the Crescent City has never wavered.

“This is a city that pulls at your heart,” she said. “It feels like a small town with all the great things that a large city offers. The mixture of cultures is amazing. I love how much people love the music and the food. So many of my friends always want to come and visit us here. I always feel like I’m on vacation because people are so warm and there’s always something new to discover. It’s the dream of a lifetime to be able to work for a company that I treasure so much with people I love in a city that I think is the best in the country.”

Rodriguez didn’t always plan on becoming a top leader at a major utility company. After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Texas at Austin, she served as the minority affairs liaison for the State Bar of Texas, where she created a corporate partnership program to increase the participation of minority and women lawyers in the organization. But, when an opportunity opened up with Entergy in 1994, she took full advantage. Since then, Rodriguez has served the company in multiple capacities, working in roles with corporate contributions, regulatory affairs, public affairs and more. She assumed her current role in New Orleans in 2020.

“I consider all of us who work for a utility to be public servants,” Rodriguez said. “The services we provide are non-negotiable commodities that people need to go about their daily lives. I think we all take that very seriously. One of my most important values is to treat everyone the way you want to be treated. I really make it a priority to surround myself with people who conduct themselves with that in mind.”

Rodriguez has maintained that sense of humility as she has risen through the ranks at Entergy, always keeping in mind how a mentor advised her to never make assumptions about how a business or department operated in the past.

“Sometimes, I think people have a tendency to come into a role thinking that they know so much and that they will do things better than anyone has before them,” she said. “Then, they find out that a lot of people have been doing this work for longer and have so much knowledge. It’s so important to me to ask questions and rely on my team without making any assumptions.”

It's a philosophy that Rodriguez has put into practice in tangible ways at Entergy. The company has adopted an approach of “rigorous candor” as it consistently seeks employee feedback from all levels of the organization through surveys, regular meetings and listening sessions. She noted that there is also an emphasis on gathering information from customers and community members about what is working well and areas that can be improved.

“All of that information helps us meet the challenge of keeping the organization running smoothly,” she said. “Every day, we’re working with an infrastructure that requires more investment and trying to provide service in a way that is affordable. But, meeting that challenge is also the biggest reward of this job. It’s so special to be able to do that for the people of New Orleans. It’s the part of the job that I love the most.”

The “She Is” campaign is a partnership between Hancock Whitney and The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, The Advocate and The Acadiana Advocate to curate and share stories about women who are thriving – what motivates them, how they motivate others, and how women can continue to drive impact. Visit www.hancockwhitney.com/she-is for more details on Hancock Whitney’s ongoing work with female leaders and to share your own favorite “She Is” story.


Post comments on this article

Enter your first name, email and comments below